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Get to Know Our 20 Finalists!

Christy Grace of Roscoe is in her 13th year at Poplar Grove’s Manchester Elementary, where she has taught grades K through 3. Principal Molly Lilja recommended Christy, saying she “will give the true answer, the one that needs to be heard, not just the politically correct one. These traits are invaluable when it comes to advocating for what is best for students.” Christy says, “Educating our future requires so much more than the ability to stand in front of a group of students and deliver the lessons. I believe being a successful educator means I take all my life’s experiences and use them as my guiding force to be an effective educator, one who provides a safe, caring environment for my students … It is vital that students have a sense of security in order to learn.” An opportunity for Christy to advocate for and make a difference in her students’ lives came knocking when a student with albinism was assigned to her class. Because this girl requires special accommodations to maximize her learning, she sits next to Christy. When one girl commented that she wished she were that student, Christy acknowledged the girl’s own special qualities and encouraged her “to appreciate who she is rather than wishing to be someone else.  That moment showed me that the students do not see [the student with albinism] as different; instead, they admire and look up to her.” Though Christy has received many nominations and recognition, she says, “the most treasured gift I have received is having a student named after me.” Christy had taught three children in a particular family. When the children’s mother wrote to nominate Christy for the Golden Apple award in 2009, she stated that the family decided it was an honor to have a teacher like Christy. She agreed with the children’s request and named the baby (now one of her students) after Christy.